Research Note: Singapore’s “Deradicalisation” Model: Revolution – or Evolutions?
Keywords:Singapore, Deradicalisation Program, Far-Right Extremism, Program Evolution
The detention in December 2020 by Singapore’s Internal Security Department (ISD) of a “far-right” individual, a 16-year-old Singapore citizen of ethnic Indian background (and of Protestant faith) who planned to murder Muslims at two mosques (imitating Brenton Tarrant’s 2019 attacks in Christ Church) is something of a jolt to those who follow radicalization trends in Singapore and Southeast Asia. Past detentions of radicalized individuals in Singapore have tended to be of ISIS-inspired youths (or, in the earlier phase, members of the Jemaah Islamiah). This research note attempts to trace the likely evolutions of Singapore’s “deradicalisation” model in response to this striking case. More attention will likely have to be paid to “non-ideological factors” especially in cases that involve youths. The research note also considers whether the Religious Rehabilitation Group, the key player in Singapore’s “deradicalization” enterprise, is necessarily the best body equipped to deal with new types of (non-Islamist) radicalization cases. At the wider, whole-of-society level, relevant agencies will likely have to find ways to reinforce aspects of Singapore’s “resilience model” (in particular, the emphasis on tolerance and inter-faith and inter-ethnic harmony) which forms an integral part of Singapore’s holistic counter-radicalisation strategy. Time and resources will also need to be be devoted to study other forms of extremism, including types formerly thought to be confined to the West. It is vital that links be forged between researchers across East and West exploring the phenomena of new trends in radicalisation, not least because of the possibility that potential extremists just embarking on their own trajectories across may well be doing the same across the hemispheres.
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